1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
- II Timothy 4:1-5
In this passage Paul is near the end of his life in a Roman prison and gives instructions to Timothy, a young preacher he has trained about his work as a minister.
Vs. 1 - he says an evangelist's work is important because it is sanctified by God who will judge all men including the evangelist and his work.
Vs. 2a - The "work" he refers to is to preach the Word. Using every means possible, the evangelist is to communicate God's message to as many as possible.
Vs. 2b - And, he says, the evangelist is to do this at all times and not be discouraged or distracted because, as Paul says sometimes the Word is "in season." People want to hear and respond to it and there are many opportunities to preach (like Pentecost Sunday - 3,000 baptisms or Haiti 1993 - Building full, 150 preachers for training, villages waited for hours to hear the message).
Sometimes it is "out of season." People are uninterested and opportunities are few and far between. Like when Paul was in prison two years and would only correspond by mail or at our church in Verdun. We had a special event. We mailed 12,500 cards, posters, $500 quarter page ad in paper, banner on building, invite from members, internet advertising. Only 15 adults came, less than half the congregation participated.
Interest or no interest, great numbers or few, the evangelist must continue to preach!
Vs. 2c-4 - Paul says that sometimes there is interest but it is in strange religious or foolish and dangerous doctrines. For example here in Quebec we have the Raliens who meet in a barn up north and dress like astronauts. They get world-wide attention as a "religion" after they falsely claim to have cloned a baby. We offer true and scientific reasons to prove there is a God - hardly anyone comes, few pay attention.
Vs. 5 - But Paul says to Timothy, despite these things and whatever else he may have to suffer, he must persevere in his main work. The message to the evangelist is simple; Don't be distracted by great success or failure. Don't be discouraged by lack of responses, lack or resources, or the foolishness of many who follow new and false teaching. Do your job! Complete the ministry you have been given to do despite the obstacles you will surely face.
Of course, this is a good and encouraging message for myself or Roger or any evangelist - but what is the point of this for you, the congregation? Well, I think that after having been with you for almost 2 years now, I need to explain to you more clearly what my "ministry" is. You see, as an evangelist I do need to persevere and fulfill my ministry and I need your help to do it. However, it is important for you to know what my ministry is so that you can pray for, cooperate with, and take advantage of the ministry that I truly believe God has given me here in Verdun,
I suppose the best way to explain my ministry to you is to share with you the three main goals of my work. Everything I do is connected in one way or another to achieving three main goals.
#1: Preach the Gospel
I preach the Bible not only to the church in Verdun but must also find ways to preach it to the people in the community of Verdun, and surrounding areas. I was asked to come to Montreal and specifically to Verdun to reach out to the English members of this church and English speaking people of this city. This means focusing on the many English and many immigrants in this community whose second or third language is English. There are a variety of ways this can be done, flyers, seminars, personal Bible studies, classes, videos - whatever.
In the same way, Roger has been sent and supported to preach to the French , I have been sent and supported to preach to the English (there are 1 ½ million people in Montreal who have English as their first or second language. These are my target.
#2: Promote Unity
When I arrived in Verdun, I soon learned that most of the congregations were not in contact with each other and that some were not even in fellowship with one another. This may be common in your area too. Preachers seemed unable or unwilling to sit and discuss matters in peace. Perhaps because I was older than the other preachers and several of them began preaching with my encouragement, there was an opportunity to encourage greater fellowship and unity among the churches. We had representatives of every congregation (except Quebec City) visit our seminars. We had representatives from the 5 Montreal congregations meet to discuss a Province wide day of fellowship. It worked and we called it the "The 1st Annual Conference of the Churches of Christ in Quebec"; at it was held at the Charland Street congregation and all Quebec churches participated.
This type of work is important because the church cannot grow unless we pursue the goal of unity. Jesus said:
And the glory which Thou has given Me, I have given to them; that they may be one, just as we are one.
- John 17:22
…being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- Ephesians 4:3
Promoting and maintaining unity require effort according to Paul. It is quiet work, behind the scenes. A telephone call, letter, email or having lunch to talk things out. Introducing one brother to another. Attending meetings and visiting each other's churches. Organizing seminars and so on.
But this effort and the unity it produces are essential because God will not bless divided churches. How can we claim to be New Testament churches if we don't follow the New Testament teaching on unity?
#3: Produce Media Mission Programs
Media Missions (now BibleTalk.tv) is an effort to use the electronic media (film/internet/radio, etc.) to preach the gospel and provide teaching on an international basis. An evangelist should follow the pattern for evangelists in the book of Acts given by Jesus. Acts 1:8b:
You shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
Jesus lays out the circles that Apostles and later evangelists were to work in. Jerusalem - hometown. Judea/Samaria - domestic country. Remotest parts - international. As an evangelist, I have two main projects that I use though media to reach these local, domestic, and international levels of evangelism. My goal with Media Mission is to establish an electronic pulpit that can reach any home on this planet with the gospel.
On Tuesday mornings when I come to the office, I take out the trash. In the past I have installed new tiles in the ceiling downstairs, shoveled the front entrance, and supervised workmen for 2-3 weeks as they completed repairs after the flood. I change the toilet paper when it's empty, fold bulletins, manage the office, answer calls, interview salesmen, fill out forms for insurance, the bank, etc. But this is not my ministry; these are things I do as a member of this congregation to help out because no one else has time, opportunity, or willingness to do these things.
My ministry, what I have been called to do, what I am supported financially to do:
- Preach the gospel to English Montreal.
- Promote unity to the churches in Quebec
- Produce Media Mission programs to evangelize the world.
I pray that you will pray for us and support us in this work.